Consequences of Educational Change for the Burden of Chronic Health Problems in the Population
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Changes in the public and individual burden of chronic health problems have significant implications for the allocation of public and private resources across generations. Preston (1984) noted almost two decades ago that population ageing in the United States was accompanied by the rapid expansion of public programs benefiting the health of elderswhile public programs benefiting children’s education contracted. Health care is the principal public service provided to the elderly while education is the counterpart for children.
Within a historical time period, political choices about the funding of age-targeted service programs have an urgency that oftentimes sweeps aside the fact that investments in children’s well-being pay substantial dividends decades later when children become the elders of a population. In large part, this reflects a lack of attention both by policy makers and by demographers of these long-run associations. Here, we provide new insights into the longrun consequences of investments in children for the burden of chronic health problems by conducting a thought experiment in which we simulate how sweeping historical changes in a population’s educational achievement potentially alters active life expectancy and the prevalence of functioning problems in the population.
KeywordsEducational Attainment Life Table Functional Limitation Educational Change Functional Problem
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